News / Africa

US Lawmaker to Obama: Phone Kiir on South Sudan Crisis

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama
U.S. Congressmen and a top rights activist have called for the United States to step up its diplomatic efforts to end the crisis in South Sudan, including by getting President Barack Obama to make a phone call to his counterpart in Juba, President Salva Kiir.

Congressman Chris Smith from the northeastern state of New Jersey said at a hearing on Capitol Hill that a phone call from Obama to Kiir would "signal level of interest and concern", and would go a long way to helping to defuse the crisis in the world's newest nation.

Obama sent a message of peace to South Sudan shortly after fighting broke out in the capital, Juba, in December, calling on the country's leaders The message was translated into the languages of the two main ethnic groups in the country.

But Obama has not phoned Kiir, and Smith urged him to do so now, with the conflict in South Sudan well into its third month.


U.S. Special Envoy to South Sudan and Sudan Donald Booth said at the hearing, held last Wednesday that a phone call between the two heads of state was  "certainly something that's on the table."

"We're calibrating when we need to use which official to try to move an issue at a particular time," Booth said in response to a question from Smith.

Obama would phone his South Sudanese counterpart "when we consider what will be the best way forward to move us off a sticking point or break any logjam" in the peace process, Booth said.



Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in nearly three months of fighting in South Sudan, which has continued unabated since a ceasefire agreement was signed at the end of January.

The conflict began in mid-December when a political power struggle in the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) party boiled over into clashes that Kiir said were a coup bid orchestrated by former vice president Riek Machar.

Machar has denied the accusation and has been in hiding since the unrest erupted on Dec. 15.

A first round of peace talks led to the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement. A second round, which got under way in early February, has not yet produced any significant results.

Smith told VOA a phone call from Obama would "let them know that we're watching." He added that the time for a call from the U.S. president was now because the situation in South Sudan was not improving, with major aid agencies pulling out of embattled towns.



Top U.S. human rights advocate John Prendergast of the Enough Project, an NGO that seeks to end genocide and crimes against humanity, said the United States needs to launch a 'diplomatic surge' in South Sudan and Sudan.

U.S. human rights advocate John PrendergastU.S. human rights advocate John Prendergast
x
U.S. human rights advocate John Prendergast
U.S. human rights advocate John Prendergast
"We need more senior figures... any of the three or four former secretaries of state -- Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton -- any of those people to be deployed just to demonstrate American resolve, American interest  in the resolution of the conflicts in those two countries," he said.

Prendergast said that sending top U.S. officials to South Sudan would help to drive home the message  to the warring sides that there will be consequences for continuing the fighting.

"Right now, the calculations of the warring parties are that they can achieve their objectives on the battlefield," Prendergast told VOA after the hearing.

"We have to steer them away from that" and one way to do that would be to "send people they respect... who can say, 'There's got to be another way to address the political disputes than going to war'," he said.


Congressman Frank Wolf, who has advocated in Congress for greater U.S. action to resolve the ongoing crises in the two Sudans, said he wants the White House to enlist the aid of Obama's predecessor, former President George W. Bush, to try to bring peace to South Sudan.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in his trademark cowboy hat, which was a gift from former U.S. President George W. Bush.South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in his trademark cowboy hat, which was a gift from former U.S. President George W. Bush.
x
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in his trademark cowboy hat, which was a gift from former U.S. President George W. Bush.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in his trademark cowboy hat, which was a gift from former U.S. President George W. Bush.

"President Bush and his team forged lasting relationships with Salva Kiir and the South Sudanese leadership and would be well positioned... to engage in diplomacy and rebuilding efforts at this critical time," Wolf told the hearing, noting that Bush gave Kiir his "trademark black cowboy hat."

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mawienmarko from: Warrap state
March 05, 2014 9:09 AM
US ruling government shuold stop supporting the rebels loyal to Dr Riak and warn them against atrocites they are always committing against the civillians in South Sudan


by: bejanybenjamin from: kampala
March 04, 2014 1:34 AM
The solution to end the long conflict war is the resignation of the kiir


by: Dominique from: canada
March 03, 2014 11:02 PM
South Sudanese are fed up of these leaders. Neither Kiir nor Machar will bring democracy in south Sudan. Atrocities have already been committed by both sides including Uganda and soon Rwanda and Burundi to come to south Sudan to kill and protect the interest of the so called Kiir. We need a neutural government not dectators

In Response

by: Tiger Lueth from: USA
March 04, 2014 11:56 AM
Riek Machar is known by all the South Sudanese as devil worshiper need to be lockup'he's no good.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid